It’s kind of odd that a casino owner like Trump acts like a gambler on tilt. But it’s going to fail him. Because the House—and the Senate—takes a cut, floating legislation that restricts his ability to veto sanctions and stops him from firing the special prosecutor and eventually doing his job at all. Each loss makes more likely the outcome that the martingale gambler fears most: he won’t be able to return to the table. That’s Trump’s daily dread. If he’s a loser when he runs out of chips to cash, then he’s a loser forever. This president doesn’t like being called a loser. Not one bit.
Herein lies the trap for the president: He believes he has unbounded wealth. He’s sure he has the uncontested ability to pardon himself and everyone he knows, so each loss is meaningless. Only the eventual win matters. So he doubles down on a losing strategy over and over, and each step seems twice as disastrous to his case as the one before. He will keep doing things that play into the investigators’ hands—ash-canning his attorney general, pardoning his relatives, lying even when the truth is unthinkably apparent—because changing strategies is fatal to the martingale gambler.